cleveland colectivo grants 'spark money' to bright ideas

Innovative ideas abound in Northeast Ohio, believes Judy Wright, founding member of The Cleveland Colectivo. Too often, however, those dreams are not big enough to draw the attention of the major grant makers in town.

The Colectivo was designed to fill that gap. A grassroots, Cleveland-based giving circle that pools funds to make contributions in the community, the group is inspired by the traditional practice of immigrant neighbors who invested in each other’s businesses to build a neighborhood.

"Our goal is to support small, innovative projects that need a little boost," says Wright, a Lakewood resident. She and a group of like-minded friends from the nonprofit sector created the Colectivo in 2004.

The group's grants range from $500 to $5,000. Funding supports a wide variety of projects, from enhancements to the kitchen at the Cleveland Hostel to a summer series of free music events at Edgewater Park.

"There's no focus area besides these projects having an impact on Cleveland," Wright says.

The next round of funding kicks off February 28 with the Colectivo's fast pitch presentation event at Shaker LaunchHouse. Up to 40 entrepreneurs and innovators will have two minutes to present their bright ideas, which will be voted on by attendees. The top 10 vote-getters will then move on to interviews conducted by group members. Registration to present at the fast pitch event opens February 25 at noon on the group's website.

Getting a roomful of people to network and be excited about their fellow Clevelanders' brainstorms is a side benefit of the effort, notes Wright.

"A little bit of 'spark money' can be hard to get," she says. "We're just trying to make the process easier."

SOURCE: Judy Wright
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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